Friday, July 21, 2017

Northampton Symphony Orchestra concert

21 July 2017

The last concert of each Northampton Symphony Orchestra season is always a private performance for the Friends of the Orchestra - a chance to say thank you for their support and an opportunity for the orchestra to explore repertoire that might not fit into one of our main concerts. This year's NSO Friends' Concert, last Sunday, concluded our season of Fifth Symphonies with Beethoven's 'Symphony no 5'. With such a famous piece of music it is easy to take it for granted and assume you know it all. So it was good to have the opportunity, over the past few weeks, to really get to grips with the symphony and to appreciate why it is such a successful and well known work. During 2016-17 we have played the fifth symphonies by Shostakovich, Glazunov, Sibelius, Alwyn, Mendelssohn and Beethoven. It has been a really enjoyable and interesting season of concerts, cleverly programmed by NSO Conductor, John Gibbons. But I'm not sure whether we really identified any particular characteristics of fifth symphonies. It is interesting that for many composers the fifth symphony seems to be a particularly significant work but, beyond the fact that getting as far as writing five symphonies is likely to indicate a maturing of the composer's skill, I don't think we noticed any other common features.

The rest of our programme on Sunday included Sullivan's overture to 'The Yeomen of the Guard' and Handel's 'Music for the Royal Fireworks'. But the star attraction was the return of the brilliant young saxophonist, Jess Gillam, who played John Williams' 'Escapades' with the NSO at our February 2017 concert. Jess is due to make three appearances at this year's BBC Proms, starting with the John Williams Prom this Thursday (which is being shown on BBC4 on the evening of Friday 21 July). She joined us again on Sunday to try out some pieces by Chick Corea that will form part of one of her Proms performances. Jess Gillam is an amazing performer and it was a privilege to see her in action again.

Sunday's concert also marked a final appearance with the NSO by my fellow horn player, Ian Frankland. Ian has been with NSO for 19 years and we have played alongside each other since 2000. We've had a great time and played in some amazing concerts together. I'll really miss Ian and wish him well for his forthcoming move to Copenhagen.

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